Monday, June 17, 2019

Shoreline Survey

A quarter mile ahead, a mature Bald Eagle comes out of the tree tops.  I've seen this many times before, a descending arrow straight flight path aimed a few hundred yards out.  I follow that invisible line and spot a duck that pops up into the air and then thinks twice about the plan.  It plunges back to the water and dives.  The element of surprise gone, the Eagle flies a sweeping 180 degree turn overhead and returns to the forest.  An experienced Eagle knows that it is a waste of energy to chase a duck.  Ambush it or forget about it.
I put in at Pilgrim Landing, my usual start for Lord Cove, but this time I head out into the main stream of the big river to paddle shorelines that I rarely visit.  Overcast skies with the weekend behind, I pretty much have the river to myself.  A mother Merganser and about a dozen ducklings are ahead.  They're heading away from shore and for a moment I consider swinging wide so that they could return.  Then I figure out that they are heading in that direction and I am not the cause.  Seems like an awfully long crossing for baby ducks.
Otter tracks overlaying Great Blue Heron tracks
By the old camp on the spit that defines Lord Cove, a pair of tracks draws me to shore, worth a look.  Could be otter but I can't tell for sure.  The sand didn't leave a good quality track.  Then I stop looking at the actual footprint and see the track as a whole.  There is a clear S-shaped tail sweep...definitely otters.  For a good measure, a Great Blue Heron walked through here before the otters and when the tide was still up.

I read about someone who bought an old camp in this area and has been making a lot of plant restoration effort.  This area fits the bill and as I continue on I notice that some brush and vine clearing has been going on in the adjacent forest.  It looks good.

I pass Ely's Ferry an hour out and follow the steep forested banks, one of my favorite stretches.  It's here where that Eagle showed up.  I take a quick turn around the first bay in Hamburg Cove, no houses, no boats moored in there, one of those places you wish you could find a hundred miles of.  From there I cross the river, skimming the huge bar on the upstream end of Brockway Island and head downstream.  It is calm, warm and humid.  Frankly, a bit toasty.  I follow the shore past Essex.  I spot and pass that same mother Merganser with her busload of ducklings, all safe and sound.  Then recross the river to the upper entrance to Lord Cove, which is guarded by several Egrets.  I find a cool breeze when I get up against the east shore.  I did not expect that and it feels good.
Great Egret

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